Arts + Culture

The Olympics Effect

by Bob Payne

Montreal, Summer 1976:
The Better Late Than Never Olympics

Going for gold: Some time before the 1976 Games, the city's mayor famously said, "The Montreal Olympics can no more have a deficit than a man can have a baby." As it turned out, he was wrong, and most spectacularly so. Thanks in large part to its stadium (pictured), which, to give it its due, is among the most architecturally ambitious of Olympic stadium designs, the debt for those games got so out of hand (about $1 billion) that it wasn't paid off, at public expense, until three decades later. By that point, the stadium had earned the nickname, "The Big Owe."

Tourism legacy: The stadium, which was not finished in time for the Games, and in fact wasn't completed until 1987, is still standing, although used only occasionally. But the general consensus is that Montreal's biggest legacy was to scare off for years to come any other city but Moscow and L.A. from wanting to host a summer Olympics.

Results: Did not finish—literally. And as further evidence that the Canadians had no business hosting that year, they became the first host nation of a Summer Games not to win a single gold medal.

NEXT: Game over >

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